Tag:AFC North
Posted on: December 21, 2008 1:13 am

AFC North -- Nice win, Ravens!

While I don't have the NFL Network and did not get to see the game live, I did "watch" the game here on CBS' GameCenter, and I was impressed by what the Ravens (10-5) were able to do against the Cowboys (9-6) last night.

The game was close most of the way, the score just 16-7 in favor of the Ravens entering the fourth quarter. Then, the floodgates opened. Ravens' kicker Matt Stover got his fourth field goal of the game while Cowboys' kicker Nick Folk got his first, both within about two minutes after more than half of the fourth quarter was gone. Then, in a stunning development in a close game, each team scored two touchdowns, the Ravens' coming on a 77-yard run by Willis McGahee and an 82-yard run by Le'Ron McClain. and the Cowboys' coming on a 7-yard pass to Terrell Owens and a 21-yard pass to Jason Witten. All four of these scores came with less than four minutes left in the fourth quarter. Back and forth, topsy-turvy, it looked like the Ravens might give up their lead, but the second run, by McClain, was enough to break the Cowboys' backs.

Final score: Ravens 33   Cowboys 24

This win significantly bolsters the Ravens' shot at an AFC Wild Card playoff spot, with the Colts already claiming one of those bids after beating the Jaguars 31-24 Thursday night. The Cowboys are in a bit more precarious spot. Even if they win their last regular season game on the road against the Eagles next Sunday, they likely will need some help to stay in the playoff hunt. According to the CBS playoff standings, the Ravens moved up to the sixth seed after last night's win, and the Cowboys dropped behind the Falcons, who have the sixth seed. This, of course, does not account for action later today.

The Ravens finish out the regular season next Sunday at home against the Jaguars. A win in this game will help give them a good chance of locking up that second AFC Wild Card spot.

Category: NFL
Posted on: December 16, 2008 8:05 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2008 8:03 am

T.J. goin' Bowling? AFC North heavy hitters

He's ninth among all AFC wide receivers and 18th overall among receivers in the NFL, with 92 catches for 904 yards (average of 9.8 yard per catch) and four touchdowns. He's poised to join a special group of receivers with consecutive 100-catch seasons during their careers. He needs eight in the season's remaining two games. He leads the NFL in third-down catches with 31. He has been a standout on a less-than-mediocre Bengals team this year, giving his best effort every week and working hard to keep morale up on a team stumbling toward the finish line of the 2008 regular season.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh was named today as a second alternate among AFC wide receivers going to the Pro Bowl on February 8 in Honolulu, Hawai'i. Housh went to last year's Pro Bowl and was the first Bengal to score two touchdowns in the NFL's equivalent to Major League Baseball's All-Star Game. Starting wide receivers for the AFC are Andre Johnson of the Texans and Brandon Marshall of the Broncos. Reserve wide receivers are Reggie Wayne of the Colts and Wes Welker of the Patriots. For T.J. to get the call, two among the starters and reserves at receiver would have to decide not to go to Hawai'i.

In a story by Geoff Hobson on the Bengals official website, Housh showed disappointment, but was resolute that he would make it back to the Pro Bowl next year, whether he's wearing a Bengals' uniform or another team's colors.

"That's OK. I'll go next year. I'll go next year wherever I am," said Houshmandzadeh.

Here is a link to the story on the Bengals' website:


Housh's comments pour fuel on the flames of speculation that he won't be back on the Bengals next year. Rumor has it that he and the team are far apart on the numbers for a new contract for T.J., who becomes a free agent in 2009. Many fans believe he is important to the success of the team next year and in the near future, but that he is not necessarily essential to that success. T.J. has said he does not believe the Bengals will put the franchise tag on him.

For this writer, I believe it is critical to bring Housh back. The Bengals need to step up to keep his leadership, his attitude and his talent in the fold. The team's wide receivers need a veteran example to follow into the future, and I believe he is that example.

Congrats, T.J., and better luck next year, wherever you may be (here's hoping it's with the Bengals).

Around the AFC North . . .

Here are lists of the players from the Ravens, Browns and Steelers who made it to the Pro Bowl as starters and reserves.

Ravens -- Fullback Le'Ron McClain (starter), Linebacker Ray Lewis (starter), Safety Ed Reed (starter), Special Teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo  (starter), Linebacker Terrell Suggs (reserve)

Browns -- Offensive Tackle Joe Thomas (starter), Defensive Tackle Shaun Rogers (reserve)

Steelers -- Linebacker James Harrison (starter), Safety Troy Polamalu (starter), Linebacker James Farrior (reserve)

Congrats to all the picks from the AFC North. I hope I didn't miss anyone, but if I did, I hope someone will point out the oversights. I haven't had time to look up the Ravens, Browns and Steelers who may be among the alternates, so if you know those, too, post 'em up!



Posted on: November 25, 2008 12:00 am
Edited on: November 25, 2008 12:17 am

Around the AFC North . . .

Well, we all know the result of the Bengals vs. Steelers matchup last Thursday night, a 27-10 disappointment for the Bengals, who, in spite of the outcome, have found some competent, up-and-coming depth on the offensive line in Anthony Collins and Nate Livings and some more depth on the defense. Unfortunately, two more defensive starters, Robert Geathers and Frostee Rucker, were IRed today with injuries sustained during the Steelers game.

Here's a link to my blog entry on the Bengals/Steelers game.


Here's a link to a thread where I've tracked Collins' and Livings' debuts and how the injury bug has devastated the Bengals in recent weeks. I have a photo of Collins up as my avatar right now.


So here's what happened around the rest of the AFC North this past weekend . . .

-- The Ravens (7-4) are on a roll, and they kept themselves in playoff contention by putting a 36-7 drubbing on the Eagles, in the process dropping the Eagles to 5-5-1 and putting their playoff chances in danger. After a scoreless first quarter, Baltimore put up 10 points in the second quarter, a safety in the third quarter, and a whopping 24 points in the fourth quarter, all to a single touchdown scored by Philadelphia in the second quarter. Quickly-maturing Ravens QB Joe Flacco was 12 of 26 for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Le'Ron McClain had 18 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown. The Ravens defense also got in on the act, with four interceptions, two each on Eagles' starting quarterback Donovan McNabb and his replacement Kevin Kolb. McNabb went 8 for 18 for 59 yards and no TDs, while Kolb went 10 for 23 for 73 yards and, again, no TDs. McNabb was lifted at the half after throwing his two interceptions and giving up a fumble. Ravens safety Ed Reed ran back one of the Kolb INTs an NFL-record 108 yards for a TD. Reed racked up a total of 151 return yards on two of the four interceptions given up in this game. Despite controversy surrounding the QB situation in Philly, McNabb has been tabbed as the starter for the Eagles' Thanksgiving night game against the Cardinals, a game in which the Cardinals will be looking to come back from a 37-29 loss to the Giants, and a game in which a loss would put the Eagles on the brink of missing the playoffs.

-- The Browns (4-7) just couldn't generate much offense in a 16-6 loss to the Texans (4-7). The Browns got all their scoring on two field goals from Phil Dawson in the second quarter. Brady Quinn went 8 for 18 for 94 yards before being pulled for Derek Anderson, who was 5 for 14 for 51 yards. Quinn was intercepted twice, and Anderson was intercepted once. Jamal Lewis had 10 carries for 58 yards. The Texans didn't muster much more, getting a touchdown in the first quarter on a 17-yard completion from Sage Rosenfels to former Bengal Kevin Walter, and three field goals from Kris Brown, two in the second quarter and one in the third. There was no scoring from either side in the fourth quarter. Steve Slaton had 21 carries for 73 yards for the Texans. In Cleveland now, all the talk is about discontent in the locker room, whether Romeo Crennel will have a job much longer, and who their quarterback will be.

This week in the AFC North . . .

-- The Bengals host the Ravens this Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, before heading north to take on the surging Colts December 7 in Indy. The Bengals will play to beat a division rival while the Ravens will work to bolster their playoff chances.

-- The Steelers travel to Foxboro for a key conference showdown with the Patriots. Playoff implications abound in this matchup.

--  The Browns host the Colts this Sunday. The Colts should beware of a letdown after their narrow victory against the Chargers in San Diego Sunday night. The Browns are playing for pride and perhaps for Crennel's future employment in this one.

Look for a Bengals/Ravens preview later this week.


Unless otherwise cited, stats are from CBS game recaps and CBS GameCenter.

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 12, 2008 8:51 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2008 11:21 pm

Eagles vs. Bengals -- By The Numbers

Here are the head-to-head stats from CBS on the Eagles versus Bengals matchup this Sunday

Points/Game -- Eagles 28/Bengals 14

Passing Yards/Game -- Eagles 262/Bengals 151

Rushing Yards/Game -- Eagles 98/Bengals 87

Points Allowed/Game -- Eagles 20/Bengals 26

Passing Yards Allowed/Game -- Eagles 190/Bengals 194

Rushing Yards Allowed/Game -- Eagles 103/Bengals 138

Total Offense -- Eagles 361/Bengals 238

Total Defense -- Eagles 294/Bengals 331

The Bengals, on average, are showing about 125 yards less in total offense per game than the Eagles. The two are close in passing yards allowed per game, but the Bengals give up about 35 yards more rushing yards on average. The Eagles also are showing over 100 more passing yards on average per game than the Bengals, while the per-game rushing stat for both teams is near 100 yards.

The Bengals will need every bit of yardage their passing game can generate. If Cedric Benson is able to perform this week like he did last week, it may open the passing game enough to get those passing yards. They need to stay tight on the run and clamp down on the pass on defense to have a shot at winning this game. I said earlier this week (http://www.sportsline.com/mcc/blogs
)  that the Bengals CAN win this game. I'm just not sure they will.

The line CBS uses has this game now at the Eagles by 9.


--The CBS line has the Giants by 6 1/2 over the Ravens.

--The CBS line has the Steelers by 4 1/2 over the Chargers.

--The CBS line has the Bills by 5 over the Browns on Monday night.

Posted on: November 11, 2008 1:10 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2008 3:10 pm

Eagles early favorite by 7 1/2 vs. Bengals @ PBS

The Eagles have been installed as a 7 1/2 point favorite against the Bengals this Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

I think the Bengals CAN win this game. WILL they win this game? Who knows. Depends on which team shows up. Fitz is starting. He's gotten more comfortable, but he is not Carson Palmer, as we all know. The Bengals found their running game finally last week with a good performance by Cedric Benson, but can Benson, and the offensive line that gave him the chances, duplicate that effort? If we have the same running game as last week, and add a little more passing to the offense, the Bengals have a chance.

Of course, the Eagles will be carrying a full load of rude after losing to the Giants this past Sunday. They will be ready for a romp. It's up to the Bengals to make home field advantage mean something again this week. Bryan Westbrook apparently is still nursing a high ankle sprain and has said he is still not 100 percent good to go, though he is likely to play. I'd rather see Westbrook healthy, but this could play to the Bengals' advantage. Despite losing to the Giants, Donovan McNabb threw three touchdown passes, each to a different receiver, indicating that he has good weapons available to test Cincinnati's secondary.

The combination of McNabb, Westbrook and the Eagles' receiver corps may prove too much for the Bengals' defense as a whole to handle. And the Bengals haven't shown a propensity this year for putting up a lot of points, so the early returns on this one don't look so good for the Orange & Black Attack.

I'll have more later after I can compare numbers for this game.


-- The Steelers are 3 1/2-point favorites against the Chargers at home this Sunday. I like the Steelers in this game as they look to bounce back from a close loss to the Colts. The Chargers must travel almost coast-to-coast after having trouble holding off a stubborn Chiefs team Sunday. I don't see the Steelers losing three consecutive home games, and they know they need to keep pace with Baltimore at the top of the otherwise weak AFC North.

-- The Ravens are 6-point underdogs as they head into a Sunday matchup with the Giants. The Ravens are coming off a big win over the Texans at Houston, but face the third of three consecutive road games against a strong Giants team that comes in on a four-game win streak. I think the Giants win this one, but the score may be closer than the line indicates. The Ravens are now tied at 6-3 with the Steelers in the AFC North, so they won't go down without a fight.

-- The Browns are 6-point underdogs to the Bills at Buffalo on Monday night. The Browns are mired in a two-game losing streak after a 10-point loss to the Ravens and a narrow loss to the Broncos which they could have won. The Bills are stuck in a three-game losing streak of their own, and may find themselves out of the playoff hunt unless they can re-capture some of their early season magic. The Browns have nothing to lose, but the Bills need a win. I like the Bills in this one, but, again, I think it will be closer than the line indicates.

Posted on: October 22, 2008 9:22 am
Edited on: October 22, 2008 9:37 am

Sometimes, a little humor helps -- AFC North

Q: How many Steelers does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Just one, but don't let Hines Ward do it. The bulb won't make it out of the box.


Q: How many Browns does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn flipped a coin, but Kellen Winslow grabbed it and ran off with it to serve his one-game suspension, so maybe he'll do it in his spare time.


Q: How many Ravens does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Ray Lewis volunteered to do it, but he got so busy dancin', he plum forgot!


Q: How many Bengals does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Light bulb?!? What light bulb?!? Mr. Brown won't let have us light in here. We PREFER the dark. Now just go away!




Category: NFL
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com